There’s a major book fair going on in France right now, the Paris Book Fair, and God bless the French (how often do I get to say that?), they are honoring Israel as the guest country of honor. This is a part of Israel’s 60th birthday celebrations.

As usual, anti_Israel groups and individuals yelled and screamed about having Israel as a guest of honor at this book fair, but some countries actually decided to take some action and show the French their profound displeasure… by boycotting the Fair.

The seven countries are Algeria, Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen.

Since this is a book fair they are boycotting and other than (indirectly and reportedly, of course) WRMEA publications, I don’t believe too much literature comes out of Saudi Arabia, I thought it would be worthwhile to compare the literacy rates of these countries with Israel’s. This information comes from the CIA Factbook, which is not always correct in its figures, but we’ll assume it’s right this time because many of the literacy stats correspond to this additional source.

Literacy is defined in this context as: age 15 and over can read and write.

Algeria: total population: 69.9%; male: 79.6%; female: 60.1% (2002 est.)

Iran: total population: 77%; male: 83.5%; female: 70.4% (2002 est.)

Lebanon: total population: 87.4%; male: 93.1%; female: 82.2% (2003 est.)

Morocco: total population: 52.3%; male: 65.7%; female: 39.6% (2004 census)

Saudi Arabia: total population: 78.8%; male: 84.7%; female: 70.8% (2003 est.)

Tunisia: total population: 74.3%; male: 83.4%; female: 65.3% (2004 census)

Yemen: total population: 50.2%; male: 70.5%; female: 30% (2003 est.)

Israel: total population: 97.1%; male: 98.5%; female: 95.9% (2004 est.)

I support countries with high illiteracy rates, particularly among women, that decide to boycott book fairs. I see the logic. I do.

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  • Great post, Middle. In several of those countries, it’s illegal to read anything besides the Quran anyway. 🙂

  • Don’t forget that 20% of that 97% are Arab Israelis. Israel has the highest rate of literacy among Arabs anywhere in the Middle East…

  • “We are not ignorants because we are poor, we are poor because we are ignorants” Andres Bello -This latin american said wrote it, applying to these cultures than blame of everything to Israel

  • “If there’s nothing to read, why bother to learn?”

    That’s right, Doesn’t Spain translate more books every year than all the books translated into Arabic (is it ever, as in ever, or the last decade – I can’t remember)?